BED HOGS

Kelly DiPucchio, Author, Howard Fine, Illustrator , illus. by Howard Fine. Hyperion $15.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7868-1884-6

This pun-happy spin on a familiar invective finds poor Little Runt relegated to low pig on the totem pole when it comes to the sleeping arrangements in his family's sty (located in Sooey, S.D.). "Each night the hogs pack into bed—/ they squeeze and groan and grunt," writes debut author DiPucchio. "But underneath the ton of them/ squeals loudmouth Little Runt." It doesn't help matters that Mama dances in her sleep, or that Big Sister Flo not only "drools enough/ to fill a milkin' pail" but also douses Little Runt in the process. Fine's (Piggie Pie! ) comical, moonlit paintings plunge readers right into the thick of the big pigs' rosy, supersize girth. In addition to throwing in loony details like sister Rose's pageant-winner sash (it reads "Miss USDA") or Mama's pearls and reading glasses, the artist exaggerates poor Little Runt's squishing and squashing and general misery until it seems almost palpable. Yet the hero refuses to take his situation lying down, and cleverly facilitates each family member's exit from the hay (DiPucchio chronicles each forced departure, countdown-style: "That left 4 hogs in the pile—/ Runt snuggled in and said.../ 'Ahhh, much better!' "). The piglet's enjoyment of wide-open spaces proves short-lived, however. Feeling cold and lonely, Little Runt wails for his family members to return and begin the madness all over again. Ages 2-5. (May)

Reviewed on: 05/17/2004
Release date: 05/01/2004
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